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Crowning Achievements

By Emily Stephan
On July 15, 2014


Out of the 32 women who gathered in the Monroe Civic Center to compete for the crown in the 51st Miss Louisiana pageant, it was former Miss Southeastern Lacey Sanchez who emerged the victor and is now set to participate in this year’s Miss America pageant. Along with the crown, she received a $10,000 scholarship.

Miss Louisiana winner

Lacey Sanchez, Miss Lafayette and winner of Miss Louisiana 2014, is emotional as she is crowned by Miss Louisiana 2013, Jaden Leach. Formerly a pupil at Southeastern, Sanchez is currently a  graduate student at Louisiana State University. She is pursuing a Master of Art in Mass Communications. License to Shoot Photography / Michelle  Roberts

The 23-year-old Sanchez is a native of Baton Rouge and former Southeastern student. She is currently attending Louisiana State University as a graduate student, pursuing a Master of Art in Mass Communications. At the Miss Louisiana pageant, Sanchez won the preliminary lifestyle and swimsuit contest in addition to the crown. During the talent portion of the pageant, she sang “God Help the Outcasts” from the 1996 Disney adaptation of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

Another former Miss Southeastern winner, Renee Picou, also left a big impression at the pageant, emerging victorious in the lifestyle and fitness in swimsuit competition during the preliminaries and ranking in the Top 10.

Renee Picou swimsuit competition

Renee Picou, Miss Greater Baton Rouge, was triumphant in the lifestyle and fitness in swimsuit competition during the preliminaries.
License to Shoot Photography / Michelle  Roberts

Current Miss Southeastern Crystal Gonzalez also made it into the Top 10. Like her fellow contestants, she went through extensive preparation for the pageant.

“The five phases of competition were interview, swimsuit, evening gown, talent and on-stage questions,” said Gonzalez. “Of course to prepare for swimsuit, I worked with a trainer and lived a healthy lifestyle. For the talent portion, I sang ‘Via Dolorosa,’ which involved voice lessons and practice every day. To prepare for interview, I had to brush up on events and issues happening in our state, nation and world. I remained myself throughout my interview as well as [throughout] every phase of competition, and I was very proud of that.”

crystal gonzalez

Current Miss Southeastern, Crystal Gonzalez, sings “Via Dolorosa” in the talent competition. She was one of the final Top 10 of the pageant this year. License to Shoot Photography / Michelle  Roberts

Of course, the pageant is about much more than just winning smiles and modeling clothes. According to Miss Louisiana representative George Wyatt, the ideal Miss Louisiana must be a “well rounded, bright, talented young woman who maintains a healthy lifestyle and is physically fit” and she must be “a true role model for all girls of all ages across the state.”

kelly bernard

Miss Monroe, Kelly Bernard, was named among the final Top 10 as the second runner-up for the Miss Louisiana crown. Her platform is Eating Disorder Awareness and Prevention. During the talent competition, she performed “On My Own” from the popular musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables.” License to Shoot Photography / Michelle  Roberts

It is the role model aspect which is the most important of all.

“By being a role model, Miss Louisiana gives young women someone to emulate and strive to achieve the best in all phases of life,” said Wyatt. “She exemplifies community service and promotes our wonderful state and all that makes living in our state so wonderful.  In her year of reign, Miss Louisiana travels extensively across the state promoting the Children’s Miracle Network.  She also speaks to thousands of school children with a message of making the right choices and emphasizing the importance of education.  Former Miss Louisiana’s return after their reign to complete their education and rise to the heights of their chosen careers while servicing their communities as they have done throughout their years in the system.”

nancy peck

Nancy Peck, a Southeastern student who competed under the title of Miss St. Tammany Heritage, performs the song “All That Jazz” from the acclaimed musical “Chicago” in the talent portion of the 2014 Miss Louisiana pageant. License to Shoot Photography / Michelle  Roberts

Gonzalez agreed with these sentiments and believes she has benefited immensely from her experiences at the Miss Louisiana pageant.

“I have taken more from this experience than I ever imagined I would,” said Gonzalez. “I learned so much about myself. The women I competed with were both poised and well-rounded, and I truly enjoyed getting to know them. I left with both friendships and memories that I will forever treasure. I just want to add how thankful I am for everyone’s support. This experience wouldn’t have been the same without my friends, family, the Lion Nation and everyone who helped prepare me. To know I had the support of the Lion Nation behind me was the most incredible feeling in the world and made being a Top 10 finalist even better. I am so thankful that I got to represent the most amazing university and community in the state. Southeastern means more to me than words could ever describe, and I am looking forward to the rest of my reign.”

jennifer jarreau

Jennifer Jarreau, Miss Crescent City New Orleans and former Miss Southeastern winner, competes in the talent portion of the pageant. License to Shoot Photography / Michelle  Roberts

For more information on the Miss Louisiana pageant, go to their website at







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